'Magic mushroom' dealer avoids jail time

Cary Ashby • May 29, 2014 at 9:07 AM

A convicted "magic mushroom" dealer avoided jail time Wednesday and was ordered to participate in a Christian-based substance abuse program.

Heather M. Hodgkinson-Rakosky, 33, of Norwalk, was placed on three years of intensive probation. She will be spending 12 to 14 months in the Detroit branch of Teen Challenge, an intense, Christian-based substance program for people of all ages with life-controlling addictions. She will remain in the Huron County Jail until her sister transports her.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff represented the state at Wednesday's sentencing since the prosecutor who presented the case to a jury in April, Dina Shenker, was on vacation. On April 10, a jury found Hodgkinson-Rakosky guilty of selling "magic mushrooms" on three occasions to a confidential informant, a man whom she later dated and lived with. She didn't testify and her attorney didn't present any witnesses during the trial.

"This is not the defendant's first felony drug conviction," Woodruff said, referring to a 1999 conviction for complicity to trafficking in drugs.

Woodruff said authorities need to send "a message loud and clear that if you sell drugs in Huron County and you're prison eligible, you're going to prison."

Aside from Hodgkinson-Rakosky's 1999 conviction, defense attorney James Joel Sitterly said his client's record doesn't contain much more than traffic violations. He also said Hodgkinson-Rakosky is "dedicated to embarking" on the Teen Challenge journey and believes she'll do well.

Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway told the defendant Teen Challenge officials "are willing to accept you on a probationary basis." The judge also said of those people who complete the program, there's a much greater chance they won't be back in court.

"I think it's a good program. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity," Conway said.

The judge reminded Hodgkinson-Rakosky at least twice it's important to follow the Teen Challenge directions and her "medicine regimen."

Huron County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Josh Querin coordinated the controlled buys on Sept. 11, 13 and 17, 2012. All the transactions happened in or just outside a North Street apartment in Monroeville while Querin and another deputy maintained nearby surveillance.

In each buy, the informant was dropped off north of the apartment complex and he paid $30 for 3 grams of psilocybin, which he received in plastic sandwich bags. Psilocybin is a solid hallucinogenic crystalline and the main ingredient in what's known as "magic mushrooms." During her closing argument, Shenker said the informant told Hodgkinson-Rakosky the drugs were for the same guy and he was buying more because the fictional man enjoyed them so much.

"I think overall you have had remorse for your activities," Conway said Wednesday.

As part of her probation, Hodgkinson-Rakosky will be subject to random drug screens and must undergo psychological counseling. She also received a mandatory $5,000 fine and must reimburse the sheriff's office $110 to cover the cost of drug testing. Her driver's license also was suspended for six months.

If she violates her probation, she faces three years in prison.

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